Getting your Penang mee rebus and mee goreng fix

07 Aug 2019 / 11:06 H.

By JEFF YONG

FROM something icy and sweet last week, let me zero in on something hot and sizzling this week – mee rebus and mee goreng.

When I sang praises over where I got my latest ais kacang fix, I didn’t expect that it would generate so much keen interest.

I was nearly urged at gunpoint to reveal the name of the joint that serves the yummy stuff!

Since food is something that gets people going, let me continue my chatter on the matter.

This also brings to mind what Fuzi Hanim wrote to me about push-cart hawkers along Western Road (now Jalan Utama) in Penang.

She remembers one Indian-Muslim man selling fantastic mee rebus and mee goreng around the area decades ago. I pointed out to her that he, too, was my hero!

That hawker occasionally plied his trade opposite the Penang Sports Club along the relatively quiet Lim Mah Chye Road. That side road used to be lined with beautiful single-storey bungalows with manicured lawns, before ugly high-rises marred the picturesque surroundings.

Lim Mah Chye Road also used to have a double-storey bungalow with a large compound that was once a base of some sorts for military personnel from Commonwealth countries.

As a child, I used to admire the green-coloured lorries and pick-up trucks ferrying foreign soldiers, and sometimes some menacing-looking weaponry.

Back to the slim, moustachioed hawker, also from Batu Gantong.

He always wore a kain palikat, or checked sarong, that was very popular in Penang then.

For me, he was the royal standard for mee rebus and mee goreng. And Fuzi Hanim, who is now in her 70s, couldn’t agree more.

What made his mee rebus special was his out-of-this-world gravy. It had a lot of oomph as it was mixed with a lot of spices, chillies and potato paste.

To top it all, his presentation was really very inviting. How?

He was overly-generous with his garnishing of lettuce cut in ragged strips of green, placed against the backdrop of piping hot mee rebus or mee goreng!

(When a local coffee and cuisine chain from Penang set up shop at Wangsa Walk in KL, it also had such a garnishing but as time went by, it was conveniently or deliberately forgotten.)

Besides the lovely garnishing, the Batu Gantong hawker also sprinkled a secret ingredient of some powder-like grounded peanuts mixed with a dash of sugar granules for added flavour!

I wonder if his descendants are still carrying on his good work.

When I first came to KL, I got a culture shock when the mee rebus generally consisted of curry gravy.

How convenient, I thought angrily to myself.

Another culture shock for this true-blue Penangite was the mee rebus in Singapore. I thought someone had spilt blood or red dye on to the dish!

Some of you may be wondering why I am talking about things from the past when those hawkers aren’t around any more. Some may even suggest that I ought to be shot for that.

Before you take aim at me, let me let you on some tips to get the best mee rebus or mee goreng in Penang.

While many say the stuff at the Bangkok Lane coffee shop near the Temple of the Reclining Buddha takes the top prize, you’ve to exercise great patience there.

Also don’t forget to seek out a ‘Chindian’ doing his thing at a cluster of hawker stalls along Jalan Fettes after you have whizzed past the Mount Erskine Chinese cemetery. Many have given the thumbs up for his sizzling magic.

There are other stalls dotted along George Town. Since I haven’t tried them myself recently, I don’t want to send you on a wild goose chase. It’s better to make friends with Penangites who are also foodies.

One thing is certain: you might need a new wardrobe for the sudden increase in your waistline!

Jeff Yong, after making his mark in the twisty maze of mainstream journalism, has finally decided to enjoy what he does best – observing the unusual and recounting the gleeful. He can be contacted at lifestyle.borak@gmail.com.

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